About a year ago I gave up my headphones. They only come out for special occasions like working out solo or when I really want to jam out at work.

And it all started because I was having the worst commute ever. Around the time of Boston’s winter apocalypse in 2015/2014 commuting into the city was awful if not darn near impossible. And despite all the pushing and shoving I saw a problem that I no longer wanted to be a part of, the lack of communication between T passengers. I mean it just makes no sense and here’s why.

  • Talking to strangers can be scary but also really really good! Like this!
    • Commenting on a girls cute top only to find out she is barely out of high school and kind of lost getting to her friends house via the T. She was too nervous to ask for help. (Obviously I helped)
    • Talking to strangers is shown to increase overall happiness.
    • It can help you be comfortable with casual conversation followed by silence. A skill I’ve heard Americans (or maybe just me) are really bad at.
    • A passenger can be pregnant, in pain and trying not to make a big deal but if you are paying attention and offer to help you get good karma points and you will probably make their day.
    • Just last week two passengers were staring at a bag on the floor it belonged to neither, I know because I asked and they removed their headphones and answered. I found the owners business info called her at work and returned it the next day. She said I restored her faith in good people.
    • Tourism! It brings in revenue to local governments and lowers your tax rate… and people don’t want to visit a city with thousands of people with headphones on. I give a lot of directions to a lot of foreigners all to make my city more friendly.
    • And the people! You never know who you are sitting next too. I’ve talked to someone on Amtrak who who I say two months later featured on the front page of the Boston Globe. I’ve met gentlemen testing remote meeting attendees robots. Everyone has a story all you have to do is ask.

As the saying goes the first step to solving a problem is realizing that you have one. I wanted less misunderstandings and to believe that people are good. I wanted a friendly city and commute. I won’t take your headphones away but I can take mine away. Feel free to give it a try you never know it may make your commute better than you thought.

Whats your ‘out there’ idea to change your commuting attitude??

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